Royal National Park

Overview

A day trip or school excursion to Royal National Park in Sydney's south, will offer plenty of opportunities for barbecues, fishing, bushwalking, birdwatching and whale watching.

Read more about Royal National Park

Sydney’s heritage-listed Royal National Park is affectionately known to locals as the ‘Nasho’ or just ‘the Royal’. Established in 1879, it’s the world's second-oldest national park. It features unique heritage attractions, along with fascinating plants, birds and animals. Perfect for bushwalking, cycling, surfing, picnicking or whale watching, this diverse park offers everything from beaches to rainforest.

Located near Cronulla within an hour’s drive from both the Sydney CBD and Wollongong, the 16,000ha Royal National Park is like a big beautiful backyard. Whether you come for a morning jog or a week-long camping holiday, you’ll discover something new each time.

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/royal-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Royal National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Sydney:

    • Royal National Park's main entry points are along the Princes Highway
    • Turn off the highway at either Farnell Avenue, just south of Loftus, or at McKell Avenue at Waterfall.

    From Wollongong:

    • You can reach the park along the Princes Highway, or via Otford which is north of Stanwell Park.

    Roads in the Royal National Park can be extremely busy and traffic delays should be expected on weekends and public holidays during summer. For up to date traffic information we recommend people check www.livetraffic.com

    Park entry points

    Parking Show more

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Parking

    Follow @ROYALbusy on Twitter for regular, real-time updates on the amount of parking available in the park, and information about any traffic control measures that have been applied.

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

    By public transport

    For information about public transport options, visit the NSW transport info website.

    Best times to visit

    Royal National Park covers a wide range of landscapes, from open grassland to ocean-fronting clifftops. It's a good idea to pack clothing suitable for all weather conditions along with water, sunscreen and a map on your visit. Royal National Park shines in all seasons, though summer and winter each offer a few special attractions.

    Spring

    Plan a visit during spring to admire the stunning heathland wildflowers on display. Head along the Coast track or the Curra Moors Loop track or walk to Wises track to see them in bloom.

    Summer

    Visit the majestic Garie Beach to surf or just relax; this beach is patrolled by surf lifesavers in summer. Plus, the panorama from Garie North Head is just amazing, so be sure to take your camera. The beach at Bundeena's Bonnie Vale is a great swimming spot, as are Jibbon, Wattamolla and Little Marley beaches. If a freshwater swim is more your thing, try Karloo Pool, Deer Pool or Curracurrang. 

    Winter

    Winter is a great time to tackle the popular Coast track from Bundeena to Otford. Not only will you be greeted by spectacular coastal scenery, you can also see whales from the cliffs between June and August. Complete the walk in small sections or undertake the entire 26km over two days.  

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    16°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    42°C (1977)

    Winter temperature

    Average

    6°C and 17°C

    Lowest recorded

    -0.6°C (1968)

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    254.5mm

    Facilities

    Toilets Show more

    Picnic tables Show more

    Barbecue facilities Show more

    Cafe/kiosk Show more

    Drinking water Show more

    Public phone

    Large areas of this park have no mobile reception.

    Showers Show more

    Electric power

    Maps and downloads

    Fees and passes

    Park entry fees:

    $12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Bonnie Vale, Wattamolla and Garie Beach are cash only, as there is no power or mobile connection. Please bring correct change.

    • All Parks Pass - For all parks in NSW (including Kosciuszko NP) $190 (1 year) / $335 (2 years)
    • Multi-Park Pass - For all parks in NSW (except Kosciuszko) $65 (1 year) / $115 (2 years)

    Annual passes and entry fees (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees)

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    Remember that parks are natural environments and can be unpredictable. See our general tips on staying safe in parks.

    Beach safety

    Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.

    Bushwalking safety

    If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

    Camping safety

    Whether you're pitching your tent on the coast or up on the mountains, there are many things to consider when camping in NSW national parks. Find out how to stay safe when camping.

    Cycling safety

    Hundreds of cyclists head to our national parks for fun and adventure. If you're riding your bike through a national park, read these cycling safety tips.

    Fishing safety

    Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Water activities

    Beaches, rivers and lakes in NSW national parks offer lots of opportunities for water activities. Please take care in the water and find out how to help your family and friends stay safe around water.

    Prohibited

    Drones

    Flying recreational drones is not permitted because this park is located within 5.5km of an airfield or helicopter landing site. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) states that drones should not be flown within 30m of vehicles, boats, buildings or people, or within 5.5km of an airfield. Drones can also impact on public enjoyment and privacy, interfere with park operations, and may pose a threat to wildlife in some areas.

    Please contact the park office for consent if you wish to fly a drone for commercial filming or photography purposes. For more information, see the Drones in Parks policy.

    Camp fires and solid fuel burners

    Wood fires and camp fires are prohibited in Royal National Park. Gas or heat bead cookers are permitted if they are elevated off the ground and if residues are cooled and placed in a bin. However gas and heat bead cookers are also prohibited if a total fire ban is declared. 

    Gathering firewood

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the OEH pets in parks policy for more information.

    Pets are not permitted in NSW national parks and reserves, however you can enjoy dog walking in these regional parks. Assistance animals can be accompanied in national park areas open to the public.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Visitor centre

    Nearby towns

    Heathcote (7 km)

    Just 36km south of Sydney, Heathcote offers easy access to Heathcote National Park and Royal National Park – the world's second-oldest national park. The heritage-listed Royal National Park offers a range of recreational activities – including bushwalking, cycling and surfing – and places to relax and enjoy a meal in natural surroundings.

    www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au

    Sydney City Centre (33 km)

    No trip to Sydney is complete without spending some time in the city’s beautiful parks. Whether it’s in central areas like Hyde Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens or further out in Centennial Parklands, there’s plenty of green space to go out and enjoy.

    www.sydney.com

    Wollongong (38 km)

    There are plenty of opportunities for adventure activities in and around Wollongong ranging from surfing and swimming to sailing, hang gliding, paragliding, cycling and abseiling. Wollongong is the only place in NSW where you can skydive onto the beach.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Royal National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Home to the feathered and furry

    A flower blooming,  Royal National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Many visitors regularly spot native wildlife in the Hacking River Valley area, so keep an eye out for possums, sugar gliders and wallabies. This Sydney park is also home to a huge number of bats, amphibians and reptiles. Plus, birdwatchers are in luck - over 300 bird species have been recorded here, look out for sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, yellow-tailed black cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets.

    • Couranga walking track Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.
    • Forest path Forest path is an easy walk in Royal National Park. It's great for kids and just 1 hour south of Sydney. Wander through cabbage tree palms and Gymea lilies on the path beside Bola Creek and the Hacking River.
    • Wet and Dry Environments - Bonnie Vale This excursion in Royal National Park is for Stage 1 (Years 1-2) students and focuses on HSIE as a KLA. Explore both freshwater and saltwater environments, and the dry forests of the coastal woodlands around Bonnie Vale picnic area in Sydney's south.
    • WilderQuest WildThings Come on a WilderQuest WildThings excursion to explore the bushland along the beautiful Hacking River. Designed for Stage 1 students and focusing on Science and Technology, investigate the living world in this part of Royal National Park, home to amazing plants and animals.
    • WilderQuest WildTracker Come on a WilderQuest WildTracker excursion designed for Stage 2 students focusing on science and technology. Carry out investigations to explore the living world in this part of Royal National Park.

    A place to get active

    Coastal walk, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Who needs a gym? At Royal National Park you can hike, swim and row to your heart’s content. Hire a paddleboat from the Audley boatshed or surf the renowned Garie Beach. Jog along sandstone cliffs, attempt over 100km of walking tracks or try mountain biking the East Heathcote trails (be sure to note the ‘no sign–no ride’ policy). Located at Audley, just 32km from Sydney city, the park offers incredible beauty and natural diversity just minutes from the highway and train station. Spanning Port Hacking to Helensburgh, the park features multiple entry points and is well signposted, though it’s always a good idea to take a Royal National Park map.

    • Bundeena Drive to Marley walk This rewarding walk from Bundeena Drive to Little Marley Beach leads through heath, past fresh water pools and creeks, and on to scenic beach views in Royal National Park.
    • Garie Beach picnic area A perfect day out, Garie Beach is a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic and is great for swimming, whale watching, fishing, surfing and walking options.

    Exceptional environments

    Rocky cliffs dropping off into the ocean, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    The park was one of Australia’s first areas of land set aside for conservation. In this natural haven, open ocean, sandstone cliffs and wetlands meet grassy woodland, rainforests, coastal heathland and eucalypt forests. You’ll also find some significant geological sites, including fascinating beach ridges at Cabbage Tree Basin.

    • Curra Moors loop track A challenging walk through heath and waterfalls, the Curra Moors loop track offers scenic sandstone cliff and coastal views, waterfalls and great birdwatching.
    • Palm Jungle loop track A challenging yet spectacular walk, Palm Jungle loop track takes in rainforest, cliff tops, beaches and scenic coastal views in Royal National Park, near Otford.
    • The Coast track The Coast track in Sydney's Royal National Park is an epic multi-day walk between Bundeena and Otford. Enjoy incredible coastal lookouts, swimming spots, seasonal wildflowers and whale watching along this challenging 26km track.

    A date with history

    Audley Visitor Centre, Royal National Park. Photo: Andy Richards

    When exploring Royal National Park you can see a range of Aboriginal sites and artefacts. The best way to find out more about Aboriginal cultural heritage in the park is on a tour with an Aboriginal Discovery ranger. You might also spot one of the 80 historic remnants from the park’s Victorian-era establishment, including ornamental trees and residential remains.

    • Couranga walking track Vivid wildflowers pepper this medium walking track near Waterfall. Only an hour from Sydney, it offers several picnic spots and birdwatching opportunities.
    • Lady Carrington Drive This historic cycling track near Audley and a short drive from Sydney follows the river and offers birdwatching, pretty picnic areas and history to explore.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

      Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

      The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

    Plants

    • Waratah. Photo: Barry Collier

      Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

      The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

    • Cabbage tree palm, Budderoo National Park. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

      Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)

      With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.

    • Gymea lily. Photo: Simone Cottrell

      Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa)

      The magnificent Gymea lily is one of the most unusual Australian native plants, found only along the coast and surrounding bushland of the Sydney Basin, from Newcastle to Wollongong. In spring this giant lily shoots out spectacular red flowers that can reach heights of 2-4m.

    • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

      Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

      An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (15)

    What we're doing

    Royal National Park has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:


    Understanding landscapes and geology

    NPWS is dedicated to preserving the special landscapes and natural assets of Royal National Park. Programs to protect the park’s renowned cliffs, walking tracks, lookouts and myriad other offerings are in place within the park.

    Preserving biodiversity

    NPWS works to protect biodiversity in all parks, and Royal National Park is no exception. Protecting the park's threatened, vulnerable and endangered species is key to upholding its biodiversity. Ongoing conservation efforts include intensive surveying and data collection, as well as activities to raise visitor awareness where possible. The park aims to introduce interpretive signage to enhance the visitor experience, and understanding of the natural highlights in the area, through education.

    Conservation program

    BioNet

    Uniting technology with the vast collection of information on biodiversity in NSW, BioNet is a valuable database open to any user. From individual plant sightings to detailed scientific surveys, it offers a wealth of knowledge about ecology and threatened species in NSW. 

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact to the ecosystems within Royal National Park. NPWS carries out risk assesments for new and emerging weeds as well as containment of sea spurge to protect biodiversity in this park.

    Conservation program

    Containment of sea spurge

    A highly destructive coastal weed, sea spurge has spread around Australia since it was first recorded as an invasive species in 1927. On the NSW South Coast, collaborative containment efforts have made major inroads in combatting this weed as it progresses northward.

    Historic heritage in our parks and reserves

    The iconic Royal National Park is both historic and beautiful, and heritage sites within the park receive ongoing maintenance, upgrades and conservation work. NPWS undertakes routine maintenance and upgrading of all its visitor facilities.

    Conservation program

    Audley Dance Hall historic heritage project

    This 19th century Royal National Park icon has been restored to its former glory thanks to the NSW National Parks Audley Dance Hall historic heritage project. Undertaken with particular focus on cultural and ecological sustainability, and historic heritage conservation, the project has seen the dance hall once more become a hub of activity within the park.

    Developing visitor facilities and experiences

    Royal National Park is committed to evaluating, developing and maintaining visitor facilities. The park undertakes regular maintenance of its signage, accommodation, walking tracks and other facilities, ensuring they align with legislation and visitor requirements. Conservation projects are ongoing and ensure the park’s heritage sites are preserved. Car parking processes and facilities are frequently reviewed as well, and facilities maintenance is ongoing.

    Conserving our Aboriginal culture

    Royal National Park is dedicated to preserving its strong Aboriginal culture. The park's numerous significant sites are maintained in keeping with efforts to protect and preserve its heritage. Members of local Aboriginal communities are engaged as a priority, and cultural site conditions are regularly assessed and recorded. Areas surrounding cultural sites and interpretive signage are upgraded as required.

    Conservation program

    Conservation and coastal engravings in Royal National Park

    The conservation and coastal engravings project in the Royal National Park is working to preserve one of the region’s finest expressions of Aboriginal culture: the Jibbon Headland Aboriginal engravings. A new boardwalk and viewing platform limit the foot access that was damaging the engravings, while encroaching soil and vegetation are being removed.

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Hazard reduction program

    Managing fire-prone NSW national parks requires a three-pronged approach, including fire planning, community education, and fuel management. When it comes to fuel like dead wood, NPWS conducts planned hazard reduction activities like mowing and controlled burning to assist in the protection of life, property and community.

    Wedding Cake Rock, Royal National Park. Photo: David Finnegan